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Wim Beelen emerges as dealmaker

Wim Beelen sold his demolition and waste group and plunged into real estate. He made his first move with the sale of his Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub. On Monday he bought the ADM site in the port of Amsterdam.

Wim Beelen: 'There is a lot of chatter. The other day the story went around that the city hub had failed.

In Brief

He began a new professional life developing outdated business parks. This month he stood out with two million dollar transactions in the Westelijk Haven area in Amsterdam. The building on the North Sea Canal has yet to be built. Yet its sale has already yielded hundreds of millions. Wim Beelen, founder of the eponymous waste, demolition and recycling company, sold his real estate project Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub (ALC) in mid-August. Buyer was CTP, the developer of business parks and logistics real estate, which founder and ceo Remon Vos took to the Amsterdam stock exchange earlier this year. Wim Beelen (46) is busy. Only two weeks after the transaction he finds time to talk about it. And even during the interview, last Monday morning, he walks away several times for a phone call. In retrospect, he appears to be working on yet another transaction: the purchase of the long-squatted ADM site in Amsterdam, named after the former shipyard that was housed there until the 1980s. This is located a few hundred meters west, also on the North Sea Canal.

Beelen pays €86 mln for the 450,000-square-meter site. That same Monday afternoon he signs the contracts with the former owners, the real estate companies Chidda and Amstelimmo. Late that same evening the news about this is leaked to De Telegraaf. He himself had not wanted to publicize it so soon. 'It was a weekend deal,' he explains by telephone on Tuesday morning. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it yet. First I'm going to have a talk with the municipality and the port authority. But we're going to make it into something beautiful, something unique, just like the ALC.'

Record Deal
Beelen's dealings in Amsterdam have not escaped the Dutch real estate sector. For the shares in ALC the new owner paid €307 mln net. Gross is heading towards €365 mln, surpassing the recent record amount in logistics real estate (€215 mln for the Zalando hall in Bleiswijk).
Two years ago, Beelen estimated his Amsterdam real estate project at a total investment of €160 mln. That included the construction costs that are now on the new owner's plate. A dream deal, then? I don't make any statements about the investment I made,' he responds. Let me just say that I have been rewarded for my creative plans and for my efforts and perseverance.

Demolition and remediation
In his own words, the Nunspeet-born businessman had to 'row hard against the tide' with his initiative. It began with the purchase of a site in the Western Port Area, where until a few years ago the chemical company Lanxess was located. Beelen demolished the building, decontaminated the heavily contaminated soil and prepared the land for building. In the meantime he worked out his ideas and arranged permits in order to realize his city hub: approximately 120,000 square meters of storage and distribution space spread over a number of floors, set up as a complex that can be used by multiple tenants. There are also 11,000 square meters of office space, 1,700 parking spaces, 200 loading docks and a private quay of 180 meters. All this is intended to enable transport from the city hub to the inner city via electric means of transport (including boats).

Squatters' stronghold gets new life

The ADM site refers to the Amsterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij. This shipyard had to expand in the 1960s in the Western Docklands because the existing yard in Amsterdam-North was becoming too small. At the end of the 1970s things started to take a turn for the worse. The advancing competition from low-wage countries and the economic crisis led to a decline in shipbuilding in Amsterdam. ADM tried to merge with the NDSM, but in 1985 the plug was pulled and bankruptcy followed. The grounds of almost 45 hectares became vacant and soon turned out to be a hangout for squatters. They didn't just let themselves be sent away. After endless procedures with the owners Chidda and Amstelimmo, eviction only followed in 2018. The development of the ADM site was not easy for another reason. The site is subject to a so-called perpetual clause. This means that the area may only be used for shipbuilding and ship repair. That clause still applies, says a spokesman for the municipality of Amsterdam. Chidda and Amstelimmo are two entities of the owner family. A spokesman for the selling party told De Telegraaf that the family is relieved about the sale. 'This is a nice ending. There will now be a new entrepreneur who has nice plans for it."

Spreadsheet Tigers
Beelen noticed that the Dutch real estate sector viewed his project with some skepticism. The market wouldn't be waiting for it. There's a lot of chatter there. The other day the story went around that the city hub had failed. Also, according to Beelen, there were brokers who offered his project without his knowledge, just to make some money.
And then he had to deal with all kinds of consultants and "people who only understand something if they can put it in a spreadsheet. For the paperwork, for a (ultimately unused) bank loan. And for the sales process: sixty interested parties, ultimately eleven bids. Advisors think in terms of problems, entrepreneurs in terms of solutions. Before you know it, you're already sitting across from eight of those advisors at the table. I'm glad that this circus is behind us.'

No manager
The fact that he is stepping out before the ALC opens - anticipated at the end of 2022 - is like this. After selling his waste, demolition and recycling business, Beelen deliberately chose a different professional life. 'I'm not a manager, I'm a creator,' he says. 'I want to take business from nothing to something.'
According to him, attracting and guiding future users and managing this complex well is in better hands with the new owner. Beelen himself hopes to benefit from the knowledge he has gained, which he can now put to use at the ADM site. It was a beautiful and instructive process. And something new for me. After all, I'm still young, I still have a long way to go.'
There were bids, ranging from €260 mln to €426 mln. The price that CTP is paying is below the highest bid, but is 'certainly not the lowest' and, in Beelen's words, 'does justice to the momentum of the project'. In his opinion, this is absolutely not comparable to an average industrial hall in the area, for which the tenant in Amsterdam easily pays €100 per square meter.

Upward potential
For buyer CTP, there is upside potential, he believes. 'Rents will rise substantially over the years and the complex offers room for more floor space.' Beelen foresees a growing need for logistics real estate, such as he has set up along the North Sea Canal. The municipality of Amsterdam, for example, is striving for 'green', emission-free transport in the city center by 2025. And there are the so-called Port City plans to build an additional 70,000 homes, on land where there is now activity.
To back up his statement, he conjures up CTP's market capitalization from his smartphone. This is above €7.4 bln, whereas before the transaction was announced it was around €7 bln. 'Look, with this they have already recouped the purchase.'

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